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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

March 24 to March 31, 2023

Personal Floatation Device (PFD) law: As a reminder, between November 1 and May 1, anyone underway in a boat (less than 21 feet) must wear a securely fastened PFD. This includes canoes, kayaks, rowboats and motorboats.

Lake Erie, Tributaries & Harbors

The tributaries were in decent shape and the steelhead bite was going strong earlier this week. Rains brought levels up and the creeks peaked overnight. At report time all creeks are running high and muddy. Rain forecasted for Saturday may sustain the higher flows. Watch the USGS gages before heading out. There are lots of fish spread throughout the system with anglers reporting a mix of fresh, drop-back and actively spawning steelhead. Please avoid targeting actively spawning fish. Spring run steelhead hit a variety of baits including egg sacs, egg flies, trout beads, jigs with grubs and/or twister tails, minnows, worms, streamer patterns and bugger patterns. For those new to steelhead fishing see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Attention Cattaraugus Creek anglers: Valentine Flats trail and parking area at Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area will be temporarily closed on weekdays beginning March 22nd to accommodate tree removal for new accessible trail. See Press Release.

A few boats are starting to target Lake Erie yellow perch off Cattaraugus Creek. Depths of 40-50 feet is a good starting point and live emerald shiners are traditionally the best bait. Launch docks are not in at the Cattaraugus Creek launch sites yet.

Niagara River

Harbors and marinas around the upper Niagara River are good bets for yellow perch. After ice-out, emerald shiners often move into the harbors and in turn attract yellow perch. The inner Buffalo Harbor is another reliable perch spot after ice-out. Emerald shiners are a top perch bait and are often available for dipping in harbors and select spots in the main river (Broderick Park, Black Rock Canal Park, etc.).

A week ago, lower river anglers had been enjoying the first multi-day stretch of good water conditions, and were catching good numbers of steelhead in the upper drifts and gorge, including fresh silvery steel. Some brown trout and lake trout mixed in too. In the lower drifts and on the Niagara Bar, anglers reported stronger catches of brown trout and lake trout. Then the river went to mud again over the weekend. It was slow to settle out this week, and with high winds forecasted for the coming weekend, the river will surely be muddied again. With a warmer than usual water temperature of 37 degrees, the smelt run may start early this year. Look for smelt to move closer to shore when water temperature hits about 40 degrees. NYPA fishing facilities including the fishing platform remain closed for winter, but typically reopen by April 1st. For information about the fishing pier call 716-286-6662 for a recorded message. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see Fishing the Lower Niagara River .

Lake Ontario, Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Some of the streams were in decent fishing shape earlier this week and anglers generally reported an uptick in steelhead and brown trout catches. Creek levels came up overnight and are all high and stained at report time. The smallest streams are your best bet in the short term. Some suckers and other warmwater fish are now showing in the streams. For those new to tributary fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

Lake trollers can target brown trout along the shoreline at depths under 20 feet of water. Trolling with small to medium-sized spoons and stickbaits along mud lines or in murky areas is the typical tactic. Casting spoons and spinners at pier sites can also be productive for brown trout.

Chautauqua Lake

Fishing has remained slow through the recent patch of winter weather. As waters start to warm, look fishing to pick up in the canals and around creek inlets first. Yellow perch, bluegill, crappie and bullhead are the typical early spring targets. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more information.

Spring Trout Stocking

DEC Fish Hatchery staff are busy stocking area waterways with thousands of trout. Remember that under the newer inland trout stream regulations (effective 4/1/21), trout fishing on inland streams is by catch and release only, artificial lures only through March 31st. For County lists of stocked waters and anticipated number of trout to be stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking page. Call the Randolph Hatchery Stocking Hotline at 716-358-2050 for stocking updates.

The following waters have been stocked by March 17th. / *Italicized waters are to be stocked the week of March 27th.

Allegany County: Little Genesee River (Bolivar), California Hollow Brook (Bolivar), Root Creek (Bolivar), Genesee River (Wellsville, Amity), Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Clarksville Town Pond (Clarksville). / *Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence).

Cattaraugus County: Quaker Lake (Cold Spring), Red House Lake (Red House), Elton Creek (Freedom). / *Little Conewango Creek (Conewango), Quaker Run (Cold Spring), Red House Brook (Red House), Science Lake (Red House), Ischua Creek (Franklinville), Paisley Park Pond (Randolph).

Chautauqua County: *Goose Creek (N. Harmony, Harmony), Cassadaga Creek (Stockton).

Erie County: *E. Branch Cazenovia Creek (Aurora, Holland), Little Buffalo Creek (Lancaster, Marilla), Ellicott Creek (Amherst), Eighteenmile Creek (Boston).

Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Arcade). / *Little Tonawanda Creek (Middlebury), Tonawanda Creek (Sheldon, Orangeville), Buffalo Creek (Sheldon, Java), East Koy Creek (Gainesville, Pike), Letchworth Park Pond (Genesee Falls).

Genesee County: Oatka Creek (Leroy). / *Dewitt Pond (Batavia).

Steuben County: Cohocton River (Avoca). / *Bennett Creek (Greenwood), Canisteo River (Hornellsville), Meads Creek (Campbell).

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!